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Latest posts by obelixx

Something eating my lettuce seedlings

Posted: 11/04/2015 at 13:31

Slugs or snails.  Get some wildlife friendly pellets and use them sparingly but regularly to protect susceptible plants sucha s vegetable seedlings, daffs, hemerocallis, clematis shoots, hostas and anything else they munch on.

full shade

Posted: 11/04/2015 at 01:06

You are going to have a very limited choice of things you can sow direct and I can't find any annual plants that will cope with full shade.   Annuals germinate, grow, flower and set seed in one season and need sunlight to fuel it all.

However, there are shrubs, biennials and perennials that will be quite happy there and can give you a  long season of interest through the year from foliage, flowers and /or stem colour.

Mahonia is a shrub with glossy, evergreen foliage and scented yellow flowers in late winter to early spring with dark purple berries later on - is a good form and widely available.

Angelica gigas is a tall plant that would provide height and foliage interest as well as flowers in late summer - 

Foxgloves are usually biennial so flower, set seed and die in their second year.  They are easy to grow from seed and come in shades of white, apricot, cream with purple speckles and the common pinky purple form.   There are also perennial forms but these can be tricky in my experience and the biennial forms set seed freely so you'll always have some new stock flowering every year if you don't hoe up all the seedlings.

Tiarellas are low growing and make good ground cover.   They have pretty lobed leaves and produce frothy, creamy flowers in spring.

Hostas should do well.  They come in a huge variety of leaf size and colour from green through gold, glaucous blue and variegated and they produce spikes of white or lilac flowers in summer.

Saxifrage 'London Pride' should be fine too and will produce rosettes of glossy green foliage with 30cm spikes of tiny flowers.

You can look up all of these on the RHS website or google to find cultivation details then go to your local garden centre or nursery to see what they have that fits your wish list.

full shade

Posted: 10/04/2015 at 22:34

I can quite understand about begonias and impatiens as I find them unattractive, plasticky looking things.  However, what you can grow depends on soil, exposure and moisture levels as much as shade or sun so please tell us if you have light sandy soil, heavy clay soil, something in between like loam; is it shallow or deep, moist or dry, alkaline, neutral or acid?   Is it sheltered or exposed to strong winds, heavy frosts and so on.

Cold and exposed garden

Posted: 10/04/2015 at 08:22

Frankie - I mulch vulnerable plants but my garden is too big to mulch all of it every autumn.  On the other hand, we do get a lot of rain with all that wind so things don't dry out.   The last two winters we have only gone down to -6 or so a couple of times and it's winter wet that does as much, if not more, damage as winter cold.  

Cold and exposed garden

Posted: 10/04/2015 at 08:17

HI GM.  I don't know its botanical name as the label has long since blown away but I bought it as a babe 8 or 9 or 9 years ago at Kalmthout Arboretum which described it as a tree whose bark was used by the natives to ease toothache.   It has large, vicious thorns and a strange but not unpleasant smell.   I have a clematis Red Ballon growing through it.

I don't have a picture but will try and remember to take one when it's in leaf.

Cold and exposed garden

Posted: 09/04/2015 at 21:37

Rather than blocking the wind you need to filter it as blocking just creates eddies and swirls that do all the more damage.   I have a very exposed garden that gets every gale going and usually goes down to -15C in a normal winter and has been down to -32C.  My soil is mostly fertile, alkaline loam on a clay sub soil so varying drainage and moisture levels.   I use trellis panels to separate bits of garden and further reduce wind strength and have a hawthorn hedge at the windiest end of the garden and assorted shrubs and a holly hedge elsewhere though that has struggled to establish owing to very cold winters after it was planted and then the neighbouring cows eating the new shoots.

I put windbreak fabric along the entire northwest boundary this year and the added wind resistance has done wonders for the fruit bushes in my veg patch and the ornamental shrubs in the rest of the garden but in the recent gales the posts of the metal mesh boundary fence were blown to 45° angles despite having concrete boots and have had to be propped up with struts.

I find evergreen shrubs struggle except for one or two conifers in sheltered positions.   A snowball viburnum is still here but all its tinus cousins and an eleagnus, chosiya and a few others all froze to death.   I have 4 forms of cornus which do very well every year and also philadelphus, sambucus, weigelias, euonymous europa, buddleia, physocarpus, cotinus, salix, lilac plus a prunus cerasifera, betula jaquemontii, parrotia persica, gingko biloba, a toothache tree and an acer negundo plus two crab apples and a damson tree .   It remains to be seen how my growing collection of hydrangea paniculatas are doing as they have yet to show any buds this spring.

I grow a wide range of perennials - aquilegia, astrantias, astilbes, astilboides, bergenias, cornflowers, achilleas, phlox, lysimachias, hemerocallis, irises, dicentras, geraniums, geums, potentillas, anemones, primulas, lychnis, hellebores, ligularias, pulmonarias, hostas, persicarias and so on.  They just take their time coming through in spring.   No sign of hostas yet, for example, and plenty of others still hibernating. 

I can grow miscanthus, carex and molinia grasses but not pennisetum or stipas which are too nesh.

I can't grow group 1 clematis alpinas or montanas or macropetalas as they get frozen or blasted at flowering time but have Red Robin and Red Ballon doing very well.  There are some group 3s which get pruned to the base in March and which are hardy to -25C and do very well here and I have a few group 2s which I treat as group 3s and prune hard.

Some roses struggle and others do well but I've had to lift some and pot them up so they can spend winter in the greenhouse or shed.

Shelter belts, mulching and patience are what you need.


Posted: 08/04/2015 at 23:19

In Belgium I've seen pleached hedging made from hornbeam, catalpa, tilias and photinias.   I believe it's possible with pear too and I've seen a copper beech one at Chelsea Flower show -

It will take some time to grow and you will need a wooden framework for the initial training till it grows and supports itself but a well made frame is attractive in itself. You can buy the trees already started from specialist nurseries which would speed things up but probably cost a lot.

Crocus bulbs

Posted: 08/04/2015 at 20:21

All bulbs need to be left with their foliage on for at least 6 weeks after flowering finishes so their leaves can manufacture food and their roots take up moisture and nutrients from the soil to build up the bulb for newt year's flowers.  

Unless you're a professional with proper storage facilities, if you lift and store small bulbs such as crocuses, even after the six weeks, they risk dehydrating and dying so it's best to transplant them to new homes whilst still green or as soon as the foliage has died.

Anyone done any gardening today?

Posted: 07/04/2015 at 23:31

OH has forked over one of our long raised beds in the veggie plot while I measured and cut and then screwed in place the buttress posts to prop up our back fence which was blown to drunken angles in the recent gales.   I've also weeded my bed of ornamental carex buchanii and other grass like plants and added a few more carex to fill gaps.

Planted out some of my recent perennial acquisitions in a bed I cleared of an excess of hardy geraniums 3 weeks ago.   Left it fallow to grow any new weeds from naughty couch grass and nettle roots but it was OK.   It's only 2m by 4 and I left some aconitums, hemerocallis, aquilegais and hellebores in there but even with the twenty new perennials and some additional transplanted stuff it still looks very bare.   I hope they all grow well and fill out soon.

Didn't have time to sow my PSB and ornamentals but there's always tomorrow, or the day after.......


Posted: 06/04/2015 at 20:19

No rooting hormone here but, whilst pruning back the last of teh clems to show new growth I took 5 cuttings each of 4 of them.  I used compost mixed with grit in terracotta pots and put the cuttings round the edge.   Tomorrow they'll be put in the propagator after I've pricked out the chilies.

Fingers crossed it works for yours and mine and anyone else having a go.

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